Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dramatic, high spirited symphonies

Francois-Joseph Gossec, Symphonies

It's really excellent to have these symphonies back, on this new Capriccio Encore release. Recorded in 2003 by Concerto Köln under Werner Eberhardt, this music sounds fresh and stylish today. And what music it is: those who don't know Gossec's symphonic music are in for a treat. That's especially true of the Symphonie à 17 parties the Belgian composer wrote in 1809, which sounds very much like Haydn's later symphonies but with some splendid theatrical touches. I've always loved this work, since I first heard it on an early 1970s recording with Jacques Houtmann conducting the Orchestre Philharmonique du Liege. Though these stirring works have Revolutionary components with a capital R, they're a bit of a cul de sac musically, as Beethoven's own revolution single-handedly moved the centre of symphonic music from Paris to Vienna. That shouldn't diminish your enjoyment for this dramatic, high-spirited music, played with great flair.

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